In the January/February 2015 issue of the MCA Advisory (a publication of the Medal Collectors of America) John W. Adams
published a nice review of the new edition of Dave Bowers' classic book, Coins and Collectors. With permission, here's an extensive
Coins & Collectors - Golden Anniversary Edition
by Q. David Bowers
a review by John W. Adams
Numismatics is thriving. Many comparable hobbies are not. There are, no doubt, many reasons
for our good fortune. Chief among these, in our opinion, is one individual – Q David Bowers. If you want to debate with Ye Editor on this point, you
must either concede it or you will have to buy Dave’s latest (and perhaps his greatest) book, Coins & Collectors, Golden Anniversary
This book, an anthology of 51 stories about coins and associated personalities, can be read for simple pleasure. When titillated with titles like
“Wyman the Wizard” and “A Hidden Treasure in the Woods”, who amongst us does not want to dive in?
Those with an economic bent will jump to the chapter on the rise and fall of the 1950-D nickel, whereas we medal mavens will seek out the stories
of the Erie Canal medal and the 1838 New Haven medal. There is, quite literally, abundant reading for everyone.
In an eloquent Foreword to the book, Joel Orosz sets the table. He points out that the original Coins and Collectors arrived on the scene
just as events were conspiring to doom the time-tested challenge of filling Whitman folders. The emission of hundreds of millions of Lincoln cents in
the 1950’s and the 1960’s diluted materially the population of early date cents, at the same time that the astronomic rise in the price of silver led
to the wholesale melting of collectible dimes, quarters and halves. Two generations of roll scavengers would have been removed from the hobby except
for the timely arrival of Coins & Collectors, along with the many new vistas which it opened. The original edition of 10,000 was followed by a
re-print of 100,000, staggering numbers for any book on coins except, of course, the universal Red Book. These book buyers were either introduced to
the hobby or saved for the hobby by Bowers’ ability to convey the breadth and color, the history and personalities that comprise numismatics.
The Golden Anniversary Edition, although it is not on an obvious rescue mission, will serve as its predecessors did to recruit numismatists. It
contains a cornucopia of topics, most of them educational and all of them entertaining. My personal favorites are the chapters on the 1933 Double
Eagle and the one on the Norweb family. Both of these have a strong autobiographical dimension. Dave Bowers is known to all as a kindly soul, but the
story of the 1933 Double eagle reveals his utter contempt for Mint officials who flog petty regulations that conscript the freedom of the hobby.
The chapter on the 1955 ANA Convention, the first attended by Bowers, reminds the reader just how long the man has been on the scene. Here a
teenager, who must operate under his father’s guarantee, begins to build a reputation that, over the years, will grow to heroic proportions. In the
new Coins & Collectors, whether in the narrative or between the lines, one comes to face with a multi-faceted giant of a man. So, yes, enjoy his
story telling, but buy the book to make closer acquaintance. Those who know Q. David Bowers only casually or not at all will come away from the book
feeling that he is an intimate friend. Those who know him well already come away inspired by glimpses of a man who, it now becomes clear, has made
vast contributions to a hobby that thrives due, in no small part, to him.
For more information on the Medal Collectors of America (MCA) , see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: COINS AND COLLECTORS: GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Wayne Homren, Editor
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